Engage Them With Reading


I’ve posted before about the love of reading and the power of books. I’ll keep talking about the magnificence of books until I’m blue in the face and all my readers (all one of you) are bored out of your mind.

That’s how awesome reading is and how much I believe it is necessary for our students.

I’m always harping on reading in my classroom. I have a classroom library of over 500 books and I’m constantly adding more. While I teach Social Studies, I’m trying to help my students build a love of reading by suggesting titles I think they’ll enjoy and purchasing books they ask for or books on topics they’re interested in.

So, today, I’d like to share a story that made my book-loving teacher heart smile. Those kind of moments don’t come along very often so I think it’s important to reflect on them to remind yourself why you teach.

Over Christmas break, I made the “mistake” of going into our local used book store (Shout-out to Mr. K’s!!) and, about eighty bucks later, left with new books for my classroom. On the Monday we went back to school, I shared all the titles with my students and encouraged them to add their name to the book request log if there was a particular title they were interested in. I had gotten many of the typical Social Studies books but I’d also gotten some Shusterman, Horowitz, and other fun titles.

After going over the list of books in my sixth period, one of my students, Anthony, came up to me.

“Ms. Higdon,” he said, “Jose [a student who did not speak or read much English] wants you to get a book on the Titanic in Spanish.”

“Oh?” I looked at Jose. “You like the Titanic?”

He grinned ear-to-ear and nodded his head.

I went over to my computer as the students were getting their materials for the day, opened up Amazon, found a Spanish copy of the I Survived Titanic book and ordered it. When I told Jose (through Anthony) that I’d gotten him a book and it would be here on Thursday, his grin got even wider.

On Thursday, I gave him the book and his reaction was precious. He threw his hands up in the air, did a little cheer, and immediately started reading. Since then, I’ve also ordered a DK book on the Titanic, in English, on his reading level.

Every day since I got him the book, I ask him “Libro es bien?” and, while I doubt that’s perfect Spanish, he understands me. His grin gets huge, he nods and exclaims, “Si, es bien!!”

To see his eyes light up like that because of a book? To know that I put that joy there just by buying him a book? That’s worth the 3.99 it cost me. I may not be rich, but I’d gladly spend some money to help a child learn to love reading.

What about you? Have you had any ah-ha moments with reading in your classrooms? How do you get students to read? Any tips and tricks? I’d love to hear them!